Bumble Bee Foods LLC, San Diego, said it agreed to sell a former sardine processing plant in Prospect Harbor, Me., to mail order foods supplier Live Lobster Co. Inc., Chelsea, Mass. Terms were not disclosed.

Officials said they expect to complete the deal in approximately 70 days, at which time Live Lobster will assume control of the plant and will expand its lobster supply, sales, and distribution business into Prospect Harbor.

Live Lobster said the deal will create up to 40 jobs for the local community in the first year.  Lobster and bait purchase, and sales operations will begin August 2010. Officials said they plant to introduce full lobster processing operations in 2011 with the potential for up to 120 total workers projected by 2012.

Bumble Bee Foods said it operated the Prospect Harbor sardine processing plant from 2004 through April 2010.  Earlier this year, the company announced that ongoing significant reductions in catch limits made it economically prohibitive to continue operations. Regulated catch levels for herring saw a reduction of 50 percent in Total Allowable Catch since 2004. The plant was the last domestic cannery for sardines in the United States.

"This development is good news, particularly for Prospect Harbor and the Schoodic Peninsula.  I know that the community has been anxiously awaiting information on the future of the plant," said Maine Governor John Baldacci.  "After lengthy discussions with Bumble Bee and with Live Lobster, we believe the new ownership has a good business plan that will lead to the immediate creation of jobs and the long-term expansion of that workforce over time.

"Live Lobster has assured me that the company is committed to Maine, to Prospect Harbor and to building a state-of-the-art seafood processing facility."